Film Discussion: Two foreign language films I love (and why I want to watch more)
As a film watcher, I always aspire to broaden my horizons and watch as many different films as possible. Yes, I will still watch the biggest blockbusters and highly anticipated Oscar films, but I also like to watch more niche movies, from independent companies to supporting short-film creators. I also like to enjoy different movies from all across the world, not just the UK and America.
Recently, numerous movies have decided to embrace culture and have characters represented by speaking a foreign language in an English-dominated movie. Some examples include: Chinese organisation in The Martian, Katana speaking Japanese in Suicide Squad, and the Winter Soldier speaking Romanian in Captain America: Civil War.
As someone who embraces culture, it shocks me on how few foreign language films I have actually watched. In fact, only two come into mind that I chose to watch myself (I did watch Amelie in French class but that was over seven years ago and I truly don’t remember much about it). The other shocking thing is that both of these movies are Japanese (with one having an option for English dubbing).
The first of the two movies is Battle Royale (2000) directed by Kinji Fukasaku. This dystopian sci-fi centres around a class full of school kids who are sent to an arena and told to fight to the death until only one survives. Now you might be thinking this sounds very familiar, and that’s because a lot of people fairly compare it to The Hunger Games. However, whilst The Hunger Games is filled with teen romance and little gore, Battle Royale doesn’t shy away from the blood. To give you an idea of how brutal this film is, this film is Quentin Tarantino’s favourite film of all time. Yes, it is that brutal. The story flows fantastically, the action leaves you in suspense and horror, and the characters are flawed but well rounded and their motives are clear throughout. If you can handle a lot of gruesome scenes which may leave some viewers shocked, this is a fantastic treat and can be found on Netflix.
On the other end of the film spectrum, we have the fantastic team behind Studio Ghibli who make the most joyous and heartwarming animated films in partnership with Disney. Their 2D animation style is still so beautiful to watch and the worlds are stunning. Whilst I am yet to see some of their most popular films, such as My Neighbour Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle, I did have the pleasure of going to see When Marnie Was There with English subtitles in cinema. I instantly fell in love with the story and the message that was being told. I was not bored for a second, there was a strong hook and I had to know the answers at the end of the film. The Studio Ghibli films made me wish more companies were making animated films of that style, instead of the 3D appearance that the likes of Disney have now gone to.
For the fact that the two films I have fully seen and appreciated from foreign countries have been fantastic, it has opened up my eyes to watching more. I definitely hope to watch more films from Studio Ghibli and Japanese animation (having already watched the Death Note anime). Although I don’t recall much of Amelie, I have heard fantastic things about it and I definitely need to re-watch it at some point.
I hope by this time next year I will have seen more films in other countries and languages. One way to do this is to watch out for award-nominated films next year and watch them. I am also happy to take suggestions as to which movies I should watch so if you have a particular favourite foreign-language film then I would love to hear about it and I will try to check it out.